Cait Courneya is an artist, designer, and illustrator based in Minneapolis. She has been drawing and painting since childhood, but discovered her passion for fashion illustration when she was studying Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Inspired most by fashion and nature, her illustration style is bold, colorful, and fluid. Cait loves collaboration, as it stretches her skills and provides ways to try new things. She has most recently collaborated with Solid Manufacturing Co. on a limited run collection of hand painted leather accessories.
Talk about the beginnings of your business as an artist. What inspired you begin this endeavor?
I have been drawing and painting my whole life. I would often create illustrated stationery as gifts for friends and family, as well as paintings and illustrations. To be quite honest my business was started out of necessity. I was laid off from my job and had a really hard time finding employment. I started freelancing as a way to make some income while looking for a job. I had always dreamed of starting my own business, but hadn’t planned on doing it as soon as I did!
Have you always been creative? What forms or channels have you explored in your creative journey?
Creativity has always been a part of who I am. From DIY projects to Interior design I have always had desire to create. I would love to do more interior design as a way to curate my love for beautiful furniture.
How has your artwork evolved? How have you evolved as an artist and businesswoman?
When I was younger my work was much more literal and journalistic. I had a hard time expressing myself through art. I was able to draw well, but felt like I needed to draw a certain way, a way that shows things exactly the way they were perceived by the naked eye. I have now developed my own style and the ability to communicate my version of things. I still draw inspiration from real things but have learned to twist it and mold it to something less literal and more inspirational. Being a businesswoman has not come naturally to me, but years of experience in sales has really given me a grounded perspective on product and the consumer. I really try to stay in tune with trends and what people are looking for.
How has living and making in Minnesota influenced your creative work, specifically through creating art here?
Minnesota is such a great place to start a creative business. The people here have such a respect for the arts, as well as a desire to fuel and support local businesses. I am inspired to be brave, take risks, and try new things by those who have gone before me to do the same. I am also inspired daily by the beauty of this state. The outdoors is such an important part of the lifestyle here in the midwest, and much of my work is done with colors found in nature. They bring a sense of peace.
You collaborated with the Minneapolis leather maker, Solid Manufacturing Co. What did you enjoy about this collaborative project? Do you think collaboration is beneficial to your artistic process?
This was such a fun collaboration. First of all, Dan and Alex are amazing to work with and such creative forces in their own right. I was so excited that they were willing to partner with me on this crazy idea! For me, as a creative, I often get overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Having them work with me on the project really helped me focus on what was going to work and the direction we wanted to go.
Collaboration is SO good, and I highly recommend it to any creative out there. It really pushes you outside your comfort zone and you develop new strengths!
Do you feel like your work allows you to contribute to something bigger than yourself?
I feel like this is the million dollar question that so many of us ask ourselves everyday. Being a business owner is a challenge and sometimes frightening. I hope that by me taking a leap of faith and starting this business I will inspire others around me to do the same. Whether it is to start a business of their own, or do something they are frightened of. Life is about so much more than work. I aspire to be someone that loves on people, and pours into them in a way that they feel confident to try new things.